Can the design of your workspace contribute to your physical and mental health and well-being? According to this article by James Smith, it would seem so.
Research has been done that validates the idea of a building’s design positively affecting your health and aiding in your healing process. A badly constructed edifice has been found to cause frustration and increase anxiety levels.
More and more interior designers and architects are now going back to old and more sustainable design principles— natural lighting, proper ventilation, a good view—in order to offer better living and work environments. These simple concepts were cast by the wayside due to financial reasons, greed, and the all too familiar ’Bigger Is Better’ belief.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) guidelines have played a key role in re-prioritizing the importance of healthily designed buildings. Anastasia Harrison, director of Sustainability at design firm Gensler Associates, cited that
- 80 percent feel more comfortable and more at home in green buildings;
- 29 percent have a higher satisfaction rate and are hence more actively engaged;
- and the number of sick days in green buildings are reduced by 2–5 percent per year.
These numbers are huge, considering the ever increasing number of cases of depression and other health issues.
A good view has also proved to aid the healing process. A ten-year long study of patients conducted by scientist Robert Olbrich revealed that those who had views of brick walls took longer to recover while the other half healed faster. Other psychological studies by Thomas Joseph Doherty were able to confirm that the effect of well-designed buildings could lower blood pressure, relieve anxiety, lower stress, sharpen mental states, and lessen hyperactivity experienced by children while suffering.
As environmental conditions worsen and health problems rise, the only solution to counter it would be to reintegrate simple environmental considerations in today’s buildings. After all, the health of our planet is intrinsically linked to our own health.